The island paradise of the Maldives wants to begin vaccinating tourists in the future, the country's tourism minister announced, providing a unique draw to a destination known for its dreamy overwater bungalows and abundant sea life.
The Maldives will implement a "3V Program" — "visit, vaccinate, and vacation" — in an effort to draw travelers back and help the nation meet its goal of seeing 1.5 million tourist arrivals this year, Minister of Tourism Abdulla Mausoom told CNBC on Wednesday. So far, about 350,000 people have visited the Maldives, mainly arriving from India.
Although the timeline to vaccinate visitors wasn't immediately clear, Mausoom said it wouldn't start until after residents were inoculated.
"The main idea of tourism being open is to provide a reasonably safe tourism [experience] with minimum inconvenience," Mausoom said, adding nearly 90% of tourism frontline workers have received their first dose. "So once the country gets vaccinated, then we will move on to '3V' tourism."
So far, about 51.5% of residents have received at least one dose of a vaccine and 4.8% have been fully vaccinated, according to Reuters, which is tracking vaccine progress around the world.
Mausoom said the Maldives has received vaccines from India, China, and the World Health Organization's Covax program, and has ordered more from Singapore.
"I don't think supply is a problem in Maldives because our population is relatively small," he said. "The quota we get from the various organizations and friendly countries also will help."
The Maldives first opened to tourists in July and continues to welcome visitors, including from the United States, but requires everyone to arrive with a negative COVID-19 PCR test taken within 96 hours of their departure and have a confirmed hotel booking, according to the Ministry of Tourism.
While several countries have planned to welcome vaccinated visitors, the Maldives is unique in pledging to help tourists get the jab.
Alison Fox is a contributing writer for Travel Leisure. When she's not in New York City, she likes to spend her time at the beach or exploring new destinations and hopes to visit every country in the world. Follow her adventures on Instagram.
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